Ticks are very small arthropods that walk on even smaller ‘feet’. As parasites, they are adapted to be secretive and avoid detection by their host. Since you can't count on feeling them crawling on you, know how to protect yourself from tick exposure.
Daily Tick Check! Despite your best efforts, you will not avoid ticks 100% of the time. Perform daily tick checks even if you haven’t been outdoors in a day or so. Get to know the spots and bumps on your skin so you can recognize new ones. New ones that just happen to have legs.
Dress the part. If you’ll be in tick habitat (meaning you step off the pavement), take precautions by wearing light-colored, long pants tucked into your socks and a light-colored shirt tucked into pants. These steps make it easier to see ticks crawling on you and more difficult for ticks to get to your skin.
Wear tick-killing clothing. Information on proper application of permethrin can be found on our post "Minimize tick risk while minimizing pesticide risk". Also consider buying pretreated cloths or sending your outdoor socks, pants, and shirts for professional treatments.
Use repellents. For more on choosing the right repellant, see our post, “Understanding over-the-counter sprays for mosquitoes and ticks” and this guide from Consumers Reports.
Recognize and avoid tick habitat. Tick species differ in where they prefer to hang out, but it is possible to come into contact with a tick anytime you leave the pavement.
Steer clear of hitchhikers. Ticks don’t survive long in most homes because of low humidity, but still — you’re safest if you put your clothes in a clothes dryer and run on high heat for 20 minutes. The tumbling action of the dryer and the high heat kill ticks and similar critters.
Check for ticks. It bears repeating - conduct a tick check at least once a day.
Remove ticks safely. Only one method has been officially evaluated for its ability to safely remove ticks — using sharp tweezers, grab a tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull up. Other methods could increase the risk of acquiring a tick-borne disease. To learn more, see our post “It’s tick season. Put away the matches.”
Protect your pets. Just like people, pets can encounter ticks and acquire tick-borne disease. They can also bring ticks inside with them, potentially exposing you to ticks. So, if your pet goes outdoors, it should have some protection against ticks.